To race in the Boston Marathon, you need to run a qualifying marathon faster than a “qualifying time” which depends on your sex and your age (unless you agree to raise lots of money for approved charities). I just squeaked in with a qualifying time, so of course I had to race it. My goal for the race itself was basically to re-qualify for next year. I’m a good, but not a great runner, but if I work hard and train carefully, I can qualify. I have qualified for the Boston Marathon four times in my life and each time, I only had a few minutes to spare and each time I had trained hard and had been lucky with good race conditions.
Because Boston is so popular, the organizers have just changed the rules and the times required to qualify were reduced (in other words, made more difficult) for each age group by 5 minutes and 59 seconds starting in 2013. (In the past, seconds were rounded down but from now on, missing your time by even one second will not be good enough.) I had barely qualified (but on a difficult marathon: the Big Sur International Marathon, which is quite hilly) so I figured just re-qualifying for Boston at Boston was a pretty good goal.
Starting about a week before the race, the long-range weather predictions were pretty pessimistic, calling for a possible high temperature of 80 degrees (and, since it’s Boston, probably a fair amount of humidity). But it is Boston, and the weather can change suddenly and drastically, so I wasn’t completely freaked out. I had run a difficult (for me) race in Boston in 1993 in high humidity and 72-degree temperatures, so if the prediction were true, at 80 degrees it would be pretty bad. I am not able to tolerate heat well and most of my biggest athletic catastrophes in the past have occurred in high-temperature conditions. I get dehydrated, can’t keep up with the fluids, and (probably partly as a result of the dehydration) I sometimes get massive muscle cramps in my legs.
In 2012 the race was on Monday, April 16, which is a holiday in Boston: “Patriot’s Day” which celebrates Paul Revere’s ride where, according to Sarah Palin (a woman considered by many citizens to be a “reasonable” choice for vice president (and hence, possibly president) of the US, God help us), Paul Revere was warning the British not to take away our guns, but according to historians, he was warning the Americans the British troops were moving against them. My wife Ellyn and I flew to Boston, arriving Friday in the early evening so we had two full days to get ready. For dinner on Friday we ate at “Legal Seafood” and I feasted on my first soft-shelled crabs of the year.
On Saturday we went to the race expo to pick up the bib number and spend a fortune on race souvenirs. Then in the afternoon we met a friend who is in our Burning Man camp who took us to the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, which is apparently one of the best places in the city to look for birds. We weren’t there at a particularly good time (we arrived at about 3:30 pm) and we didn’t see anything spectacular, but did see a lot of species, including those common east-coast birds that do seem “spectacular” to us folks from the west coast, like the Northern Cardinal and the Eastern Blue Jay. We also saw a beautiful Wild Turkey. We did find a mausoleum with my name on it, so I figured that would be a good place for my eternal rest if I died on the course.
That was the only real birding we did in Boston. During the race itself, I wasn’t in much of a condition to check out the avian wildlife, but we did see a bunch of Wild Turkeys on the bus ride to the start, and during the race, it was impossible not to notice one Red-tailed Hawk and another large hawk I couldn’t identify, since it was probably one not common on the west coast. Or maybe I was just hallucinating.
After the birding, we went to our friend’s house and had a great dinner. His “house” was amazing: he’s the caretaker for a boathouse on the Charles River and lives above the boat storage unit. We sat on the deck, looking over what must be one of the best views in Boston. He’s been living there for many years. I had never seen racing rowboats up close, and they are pretty amazing. The two-person versions were made mostly of carbon fiber and weigh only about 30 pounds each. And they cost about $30,000 each. With a few million dollars worth of boats in one place, it was clear why it was worthwhile to have a caretaker for them.
Our Burning Man camp (called “Nosefish,” for somewhat bizarre reasons) includes four people on the east coast, and all of them happened to be in Boston for this pre-race meal. We saw artwork in progress for our 2012 camp and discussed upcoming plans. We took photos of “Nosefish East” and posted them on the web for the amazement and amusement of rest of our camp.
By the time we arrived in Boston, the weather predictions were even more pessimistic, predicting possibly 87 degrees. It was at about that time I decided my goal of finishing with a time to re-qualify for Boston was probably gone, and that my run would probably just be a survival exercise. I do not do well in hot temperatures, and in the past in hot races I have had terrible problems with massive leg cramps. I did try something different this year: a friend who is an endocrinologist suggested that doses of vitamin D might help, so beginning about a week before the race I took two 2000-IU capsules of vitamin D every day, including a pair on race morning.
One screw-up we discovered upon arriving in Boston is I’d forgotten to pack any electrolyte tablets (I usually use Salt-Stick capsules) that I’d planned to carry with me in case the heat was bad and I lost a lot to sweat. I figured there would be no problem finding them at the race expo, but that wasn’t the case. The only thing we found were some little packets of electrolytes made by Gatorade you were supposed to dissolve in 20 ounces of regular Gatorade. The little cups you get on the race course are much less than 20 ounces, but I figured if worse came to worst, I could probably choke down a very salty mixture so I purchased four packets.
The Gatorade folks told us about a “marathon running store” near our hotel and we could check that out, too. There were no electrolyte capsules at the running store either, so I figured I’d just have to depend on the Gatorade packets.
We did almost nothing on Sunday: we had a leisurely brunch with a couple of friends from home, one of whom was going to race. We also took about a half hour to search for, and finally find, our first Geocache in Massachusetts: a magnetic micro cache hidden in Trinity Church. There were lots of muggles around (the term “muggles” generally refers to non-geocachers, in this case it basically meant church employees), but nobody seemed to care we were looking in every nook and cranny and feeling up the railings overlooking a courtyard garden.
As the day went on, the predictions for the temperature went up, and 89 degrees was predicted. During the final two days, we got three emails from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) begging us not to run if we weren’t experienced and warning even the most experienced runners to take it easy because the conditions would almost certainly be brutal. Finally they offered anyone the opportunity to defer race entry until next year if they simply picked up their race packet but did not cross the starting line. I think the idea of doing that must have passed through many people’s heads. It certainly did through mine.
[Look below for copies of the messages sent to runners prior to the race by the BAA.]
Often, in the days before a big race, I start feeling weird twinges in my legs and knees, and I’m always worried, in spite of the fact there were no injuries during training, that something was about to go wrong. This time there were no twinges, but when I put my foot in my shoe the day before the race, things just felt weird. I walked around a little, but the weirdness continued, and I finally took my shoe off to check. It turned out we had purchased a dozen tiny muffins for breakfasts and one of them had rolled off the table and into my shoe. My foot had squished it into a paste that filled the toe, so that was a relief!
The night before the race, we had dinner in a nice (but fairly expensive) Italian restaurant (called Sorellina) right across the street from our hotel. I got to sleep early, and slept pretty well, which is unusual for me before a race.
I woke to the alarm at 5:30, ate a bagel with peanut butter and a banana, got dressed in my lightest-weight racing clothes, and headed toward the Boston Commons where the buses were to pick us up to carry us to the Athletes’ Village near the start. In retrospect, I wish I had taken a white jersey and some shorts that weren’t black to run in to help reflect the heat, but at least I had a white hat. I also wonder whether it would have been worthwhile to wear those white “arm coolers”. In any case, I had what I had.
When I arrived at the Boston Common, it looked like total chaos at the bus stop with thousands of people trying to board, but it turned out things were under control, and we did board in an efficient and fair order and, as usual, I had an interesting seat-mate for the long ride to Hopkinton. The funniest thing that occurred was on the bus there was a radio station playing in the background and just as the bus took the Hopkinton exit, the radio announcer said something like, “It’s going to be a hot one. We may be in for record high temperatures today.” At that point, one of the runners shouted, “Sweeeeet!!!” Many runners I know — at least the long-distance ones — have a pretty black sense of humor, and I really wished I had been the one to shout it.
As it was in the past (I’d run twice in Boston before), everything in the Athletes’ Village was well-organized: there was a table with free sun block, so I put on a preliminary coat there, then tables with Gatorade, water, bagels, bananas, et cetera. There was even a table dispensing free Gatorade pre-race fluid that we were supposed to drink 10 or 15 minutes before taking off. I figured I’d give it a try, since although I’d never used it before, the label on the package indicated it was a pretty reasonable mixture. I think there must have been coffee available, but I didn’t find it, and I usually have coffee in the mornings, although I had skipped it in the hotel room. I did have a PowerGel packet with “2x” the caffeine, so I figured I could eat that to avoid caffeine withdrawal.
I sat under one of the huge tents set up at the school and talked with the folks nearby while we waited for the start. The race start was broken into three waves, the first beginning at 10:00 and mine at 10:40. The temperature wasn’t bad and I ate a banana and a few bites of another bagel about an hour before I was to start and also carefully put on sun block from the tube I’d brought with me.
The most interesting story I heard was from somebody who, after a recent Boston Marathon, found an offer on eBay to sell finisher’s medals. Apparently the seller was stupid enough to say he’d obtained them in the medical tent at the end of the race where he stole them from finishers who were too far out of it to notice. According to the guy who told me this, the culprit was arrested.
In another big coincidence, a couple of gals sat down next to me, and of course we asked where we all came from. They said “northern California,” so of course I asked for details and they said “Palo Alto.” I told them I was from Los Altos Hills, and they said that they were really from Los Altos, but they always tell folks Palo Alto since that’s so much better known. So out of the 27,000 runners, three people who lived within a mile or two of each other happened to pick the same spot to sit down and avoid the sun.
A half hour before the start, I decided to make one final pass through the bathroom lines to empty out the last of everything, and as soon as I stepped out from under the tent into the sun, it felt like stepping into an oven. Not good! Just before I left for the race start I drank the Gatorade pre-race packet: perhaps three or four ounces of liquid with a fair amount of sugar in it.
It’s about 3/4 of a mile from the Athletes’ Village to the race start and the announcer told us when to start moving toward the starting line, depending on our start time and corral number. That 3/4 of a mile was a long walk, mostly in the sun (there was an additional problem in that with a race early in the year, none of the trees have leaves yet, so there wasn’t much shade). Near the starting line, they’d set up another huge set of porta-potties, which was great, since I suddenly needed to do something that couldn’t be done on the course by stepping behind a tree and there were plenty of free toilets. When I finally got to the starting corral, I had worked up a pretty good sweat and I got there almost as soon as the starting gun went off.
I think it was at about this point I stopped caring at all about my time: I just wanted to finish before the course closed. The heat was already bothering me and I knew it would just get hotter. I also knew there wasn’t a prayer in Hell of re-qualifying and if I pushed hard I’d almost certainly wind up with massive cramps or maybe with an ambulance ride and I just didn’t see the point in doing that for what would in any case be a very bad final time. Best case, I figured, would be to average about 12-minute miles, and I needed to run sub-9 to re-qualify, so I knew I’d miss by more than an hour.
Getting a late start doesn’t matter, since everyone wears an RFID chip that records the time you cross various receptors on the course. In the case of Boston, that’s the start, finish, midpoint, and every 5-kilometer step. I think I got to the official starting line about a minute after the gun went off and I started my timer at that point.
The BAA really did a good job of preparing for the heat as well as it could, and perhaps ten yards beyond the starting line was the first aid station. This was the first time in my life I used an aid station at the start, and I stopped after ten yards to drink a large cup of water.
“Running” the Race
I started out at what seemed like a conservative pace (it turned out to be a little faster than I thought, probably due to excess adrenalin: roughly a 9:25 pace, at least for the first couple of miles) and I figured I would slow down if/when necessary. I also planned to walk through all the aid stations, making sure to get all the water and/or Gatorade I wanted. I think the BAA’s original plan was to have aid stations approximately every 2.5 miles, and I think the first two were at about 2.5 and 5 miles (well, and one more at zero miles), but after that, there was a station at every mile, all the way to the end. I don’t think I missed a single station, except maybe the one at mile 26, and at almost all of them, I had a cup of Gatorade and a cup of water. I usually drank about half of the water and poured the rest onto my hat and over my jersey. Sometimes I took two cups of water: one for drinking and one for pouring.
I’m sure almost everyone was using way more water than usual, and bless the BAA for not running out at any of the stations as has happened in a few recent major marathons. I was in the last wave of runners to start, putting me behind most of the racers, so by the time I got to each aid station the ground was totally littered with used paper cups. Since I’m sure almost all the runners did what I did; namely, pour a cup of water over their heads at most stations, the ground at each aid station was also soaking wet. The mixture of thousands of cups, gallons of water and thousands of footsteps churned the cup/water mixture into something resembling papier mâché. The next day, when my shoes dried out, Ellyn couldn’t figure out what the small weird pieces of gray/white “cardboard” were doing on my shoes.
Up until about Mile 10, I stuck to my original plan to run except through the aid stations, but at about Mile 10, I decided I’d also take a 30-second walk every ten minutes, and that worked for another 40 minutes. I do remember how depressing it was passing the 10k mark and thinking I was less than 1/4 done and already feeling pretty bad. I started to slow down, and the only real high point was at Wellesley College where the girls have an amazing cheering section that probably kept everybody running well for the length of the campus, but I noticed that I, like almost everyone else, started walking as soon as we were past.
By the time I finally got to Mile 15 or 16, I noticed on almost any slight uphill, as far as I could see, all the “runners” were walking, and, except for near the finish line, I could always see a fair percentage of walkers. I kept passing and re-passing the same people, most of whom had a similar bib number to mine, indicating their qualifying marathon time was about the same as mine.
I did seem to be doing OK relative to cramps, and only one time, at about Mile 18, did both of my hamstrings tell me they were about to cramp. After I walked for a few hundred yards, the threat seemed to go away.
From Mile 1 to Mile 16, my average heart rate slowly increased (from about 125 to 135) as my pace slowly decreased (from 9:21 to 13:31). As slow as a 13:31 pace is, I slowed down significantly after that.
Between Miles 20 and 24, I walked a lot, every now and then jogging a bit, and finally at about Mile 24, I could see the “Citgo” sign in the distance which marks the point where you’re one mile from the finish. I jogged a bit more of Mile 24 to 25 and decided to run the last mile, but that didn’t last long. Finally, when I turned onto Boylston Street and could see the finish in the distance, I did jog in.
As expected, along the course, and especially toward the end, there were lots and lots of ambulances to pick up downed runners. I saw plenty of them and I’m sure there were plenty more. I was certain I didn’t want that to happen to me. In fact, when I had finished and was back in the hotel room we heard ambulance after ambulance after ambulance.
In addition to the official aid stations, I often made use of the unofficial ones, run by people who lived along the route. Some handed out water, some ice, and some slices of oranges or bananas. I took most of the orange slices and some water and quite a few handfuls of ice. I tried putting the ice in my cap, but that was pretty uncomfortable, so I just kept it in my mouth or in my hands. (I had used the ice-in-the-hat strategy at Ironman Canada the year before and it worked well, but for some reason, it was uncomfortable in Boston.)
Since there wasn’t much shade from the trees, the runners made use of almost every available shady opportunity. The sun was pretty high in the sky and that made shade even harder to come by, but if there was a tall enough building, there were sometimes a few feet of shade on the right side of the road. When this occurred, almost the entire river of runners would squeeze to the right for as long as the building extended.
In the early parts of the race, say, up until about Mile 20, every time a spectator was spraying water from a hose I was sure to soak myself. But somehow, after about Mile 20, I didn’t feel like it at all, and I tried to avoid the sprinklers. In spite of all the stuff I was drinking, I wasn’t sure I was keeping up, and sometimes my jersey seemed too dry, as if I wasn’t sweating, and this seemed doubly weird since I splashed myself with water at almost every opportunity.
Just before the race, and at about Miles 10 and 17, I mixed packets of the Gatorade electrolytes with the cups of Gatorade at the aid stations and choked them down. The first two went down fine, although it tasted very salty since I was mixing the stuff with 2 or 3 ounces of fluid instead of 20, but after the last one I started feeling a bit nauseated just after I got it down. The nausea went away after about a mile, but I decided not to try using the fourth packet I had. I did eat the caffeinated gel at about Mile 8 and another (non-caffeinated) at Mile 16 provided by the race organizers
It was sure a relief to finish, with the slowest marathon time I’ve ever recorded. After finishing I had to walk for about eight blocks to get through the finish chute where they handed out food, recovery drinks, finishers’ medals, et cetera. This year the bag of stuff I checked at the start was in the first bus I came to rather than the last. Finally, we exited to a “family meet-up area” where you could meet at a letter of the alphabet with your family. Before the race Ellyn and I had looked at the meet-up maps and had decided that the “S” area was closest to our hotel. Of course we talked about meeting at “D,” the first letter of my last name, but decided (I thought) on “S.”
Ellyn did see me finish and I saw her about 200 yards from the line so I figured she’d be at “S” before I was, since I had to walk about six blocks in a sort of loop to get to the meet-up areas, but when I arrived she wasn’t there. I paced back and forth for a while, wondering when/if I should go to the “D” area in case there had been a miscommunication. I decided to stay at “S” so Ellyn would have to do the walking, and after a few minutes she showed up. Apparently a spectator had passed out between her and me and the road had been blocked for the paramedics.
We walked the two or three blocks back to the hotel without incident, and got in the elevator for our room on the 21st floor. Just standing still for the first time in the elevator, my head started to get really light and I couldn’t tell what was going on. Luckily, before I passed out, we got to our floor and I was able to sit down and the feeling went away after a couple of minutes. My legs were starting to feel a bit crampy, so I took a hot bath (which had helped in the past) and that feeling went away. Then I took a nap and seemed almost normal after an hour or so (well, “normal” except I had a very funny gait). Apparently I wasn’t the only one to feel light-headed. While waiting in line at a restaurant for dinner, we witnessed another marathon finisher pass out, but he seemed to recover after just a couple of minutes. We talked to others who also had seen people passing out after the race.
This was one of the hardest races ever for me to finish, including the three Ironmans I’ve done. I followed a great training schedule, missed almost none of the workouts, but did almost no training in the heat since I tend to run early in the mornings.
In fact, waiting in the airport for our flight home we met a woman who had done the race (we racers were usually easy to spot: most of us wore some indication of the race, from participant t-shirt to finisher’s medal). She said she’d done surprisingly well in the heat, but because of an injury, hadn’t done her usual training. However, she had taken lots of classes in Bikram yoga, where the yoga is done in very high-temperature rooms. I had done almost no training in the heat, and I have read there are things called “heat-shock proteins” that can aid in performance in high-temperature conditions, but you need to train in high temperatures to activate them. Maybe the yoga did it for her, and maybe I should have taken some classes in Bikram myself.
Final race-day temperature: 89 degrees, according to the New York Times. Number of runners who took the deferment until next year: 427. More than 2,100 runners were treated for dehydration and/or exhaustion.
My (horrible) splits:
Here’s the GPS trace, heart-rate, et cetera for the race.
Los Altos Hills, California
April 16, 2012
Age – 62
Bib # 20440
[Visit Tom Davis’s home page Geometer.org, which chronicles two of his three Boston races, as well as his many birding adventures ]
Emails from the BAA
Here are the warnings we got about the heat from the BAA in the days before the race:
April 13, 9:19 pm
BOSTON MARATHON – WEATHER UPDATE
Marathon Monday in New England can offer a variety of weather conditions, and from what we can see, this Monday will be no different.
The forecast for April 16th is calling for higher than normal temperatures on the course. If a cold front does not come through the region by mid afternoon, temperatures are predicted to reach into the low 80’s. Combine these temps with a south west wind, you may be running in a moderate level of heat and in dryer than normal conditions.
Educating yourself on the three major forms of heat illnesses will only provide you with the ability to protect yourself and to help fellow runners. All forms of heat illness (heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke) can be exacerbated by distance running in warmer climates. Heat Stroke is a life threatening illness. The BAA requests that you take a moment to review these important heat recommendations.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
Stay properly hydrated and recognize the early warning signs of heat illness. As a runner, you can prevent heat-related problems from becoming a life-threatening situation. Learn to respect the heat, even if temperatures are only in the 60’s (F) on race day.
Hydrating properly is important…… But be careful; over hydrating can be just as harmful.
Heat illness is related to elevated temperatures, elevated humidity and to the speed of running.
Slow down…. Running in the heat should drastically change your pre-race strategy. Slowing down can significantly decrease many forms of heat illness.
If you are feeling sick or if you are experiencing a fever on the morning of the race, know that running in the heat will only exacerbate your illness and the symptoms of heat illness. It is the advice of the Boston Marathon’s medical team to NOT run if you are experiencing a fever on race morning — regardless of the weather conditions. If you become dizzy, nauseated, or have the chills while running, then STOP RUNNING, find shade, and drink water or a fluid replacement drink. If you do not feel better, seek medical help.
Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and the body temperature continues to rise. Symptoms of heatstroke include mental changes (such as confusion, delirium, or unconsciousness). Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency, requiring emergency medical treatment.
Run in the shade whenever possible and avoid direct sunlight. When you are going to be exposed to the intense rays from the sun, apply at least 15 SPF sunscreen and wear protective eye wear that filters out UVA and UVB rays. Consider wearing a visor that will shade your eyes and skin but will allow heat to transfer off the top of your head.
If you have heart or respiratory problems or you are on any medications, consult your doctor about running in the heat. In some cases it may be in your best interest to rethink your running strategy that day, and if there are extreme temperature increases on race day, then consider not running at all that day. If you have a history of heat stroke/illness, know that you are susceptible for this condition again, so run with extreme caution.
Dress accordingly; wear as few clothes as you decently can. Try loose fitting white shorts and a white mesh top to reflect the heat and to permit evaporation. Protect your head from intense sun with a lightweight hat that can breathe. The back of the neck can be protected by the hat/visor or a cotton kerchief.
Run with friends so that you can keep an eye on each other’s medical status during the day. If you see a runner in distress, then ask for medical assistance.
Advisory From Boston Marathon Medical Directors to Entrants in the 2012 Boston Marathon
Saturday, April 14, 2012 as of 11:30 a.m.
We are looking closely at the current weather situation which is projected to be quite warm. The B.A.A. is closely monitoring this situation for race day decisions. If the temperatures reach certain levels, running will put even the most fit athletes at risk for heat injury.
We are now making the recommendation that if you are not highly fit or if you have any underlying medical conditions (for example-cardiac disease, pulmonary disease or any of a number of medical problems), you should NOT run this race.
Inexperienced marathoners should not run.
Those who have only trained in a cooler climate and who may not be acclimated (for at least the last 10 days) to warm weather running conditions should also consider not running.
For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions:
Run at a slower pace and maintain hydration. You should frequently take breaks by walking instead of running.
This will not be a day to run a personal best. If you choose to run, run safely above all else. Speed can kill.
Heat stroke is a serious issue and is related to intensity of running as well as the heat and humidity.
Good hydration is important but over hydration can also be a problem. Thirst is an indication that you are under-hydrated. You should maintain hydration levels slightly greater than your hydration program in your training, but not excessively so.
Even the fittest athletes who take precautions can still suffer serious heat illness. Recognizing symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others is critical, this may include headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these, stop running immediately and if symptoms persist seek medical attention.
Boston Marathon Co-Medical Directors, Dr. Pierre d’Hemecourt and Dr. Sophia Dyer
BOSTON MARATHON UPDATE
Due to warm weather in Monday’s forecast, a deferment option has been introduced.
Due to the unusually warm weather forecast for the Boston area on Monday, the B.A.A. will defer the entry of those official entrants to the 2013 Boston Marathon for participants who decide not to race.
This applies to official entrants only who either have claimed or will claim their bib number packet at the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo through Sunday evening at the Seaport World Trade Center in South Boston. Runners must claim their bib number for deferment to be an option.
In order to receive a deferment for 2013, race participants may not start the race.
No refund for the 2012 entry will be given. All entry fees for 2013 must be paid.
In addition, the B.A.A. will keep the finish systems open an additional hour on race day. Whereas the finish systems generally cease just prior to 5:00 p.m., this year the finish systems will remain open until approximately 6:00 p.m.
Please go to the B.A.A.’s web site – www.baa.org or www.bostonmarathon.org – for the latest information.
The B.A.A. thanks all participants for their cooperation in this matter.
April 15, 4:52pm
Update to Entrants in Tomorrow’s Boston Marathon® Sunday, April 15, 2012 as of 4:30 p.m.
Running any marathon involves risks
The weather conditions that we will be seeing on Monday, April 16 will involve even more risk. It will involve an increased element of risk to all participants due to the heat. Only the fittest runners should consider participating.
We have put in place a broad array of services and support for our marathon participants, but the risks that will be presented on April 16 will be higher than normal.
Therefore, in cooperation with the Boston Marathon’s Medical Team, it is our recommendation that anyone entered in the marathon who has not met the qualifying standards for their age and gender strongly consider not running, and that they strongly consider deferring until next year.
Another essential factor to take into consideration is whether you have ever run a full marathon in weather conditions involving hot temperatures-and that can mean temperatures even lower than those that may be present on Monday. Do NOT assume that any experience you have in running a cooler marathon will be a reliable guide in making the decision in whether to participate or defer. You must factor in the heat.
Everyone who does choose to participate should strongly consider running significantly more slowly that they normally would plan to run a marathon. We have extended the opening of our finish line in support of this recommendation.
For the overwhelming majority of those who have entered to participate in the 2012 Boston Marathon, you should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience.
MOST IMPORTANTLY-everyone needs to take responsibility for their own safety. Ultimately this is an individual sport in which individuals must take responsibility for themselves. Boston Athletic Association
Advisory From Boston Marathon MEDICAL DIRECTORS to Entrants in the 2012 Boston Marathon
Sunday, April 15, 2012 as of 4:30 p.m.
The weather situation continues to be a significant concern for Boston Marathoners. We have determined that the race will occur in a “red zone” which is considered an increased risk but acceptable for high-level elite runners. However, it is not considered safe for unfit and novice runners.
We strongly recommend that unless you have met qualifying times for this race that you accept the deferment option from the B.A.A.
Anyone who has not run a qualifying time should also very strongly consider the deferment option.
Again, if you have any medical problems or if you under-trained, then please do not run this marathon.
Those who are running the race should run much slower, adding several minutes to your per mile pace.
Also important, please be sure to complete the emergency medical contact information on the reverse side of your bib.
Remember, unless you are acclimated to the weather conditions forecast for Monday, you should not run.
For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions:
Run at a slower pace and maintain hydration.
You should frequently take breaks by walking instead of running.
Heat stroke is a serious issue and is related to intensity of running as well as the heat and humidity.
Good hydration is important but over hydration is also dangerous.
Thirst is an indication that you are under-hydrated. You should maintain hydration levels slightly greater than your hydration program in your training, but not excessively so. Over-hydration can cause severely low sodium, known as hyponatremia.
Even the fittest athletes that take precautions can still suffer serious heat illness. Recognizing symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others is critical. This may include headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these, stop running immediately and if symptoms persist seek medical attention.
Boston Marathon Co-Medical Directors, Dr. Pierre d’Hemecourt and Dr. Sophia Dyer